Riding his bike up to the burning gate, Jeff said “Okay, we know for sure now. If 501 was here before, they are probably not here now, Frankie!”
Sitting on his bike, Jeff replied “I think that is a given thing, Jeff. So, what do we do next?”
“The way I see it, we came to rescue 501, as far as we know we are the only people near enough to get to them. I don’t know about you but I can’t rest easy knowing I got here and left them alone, Jeff.”
“I guess you’re right, you know this means we go in naked.”
Yup, you got that part right. We take in what we can carry and pick things up as we go.”
Looking at the four raydrians flying back to base, Frankie said “I’m glad Adria will get back safe, but for us, who can tell?”
Jeff was busily eyeing the roof tops, watching for some sign of movement. The more he searched, the less he believed what he saw.
“Okay, Frankie this is giving me the bloody creeps now!”
“I know what you mean, Jeff. We had a fire fight, there was a massive explosion and yet there is no rush to see what’s going on. Are we missing something here?”
“I've no idea, Frankie, but I would keep an eye on the roofs. The last thing we need is to get caught in the open. We’ll have to hug the walls and stick to the alleys for our way around.”
Walking slowly to the end of an alley, Jeff said “Something is seriously amiss here. I don’t like the lack of action, Frankie.”
Looking across the square opposite them, Frankie replied “Do you think we have been set up, Jeff?”
“I can’t say for sure, but by now the square should be humming with troops. And I am at a loss as to why it isn't and that spooks me.”
“For now we’ll have to take a chance and take each alley as it comes, Jeff. I don’t like it either but we haven’t a choice now.”
Walking slowly around the dark square, and watching for any signs of movement; Jeff and Frankie inched their way to the guard post. Usually at least three men were in there, but tonight it was empty.
“Hey, Jeff” Whispered Frankie, “Take a look at this!”
Jeff crept over to Frankie to see what he had found, searching through the base of the post. Jeff had come across some old maps. “Do you think we can use them to get around here?”
Looking at the maps under his dying flash light, Jeff said “Sorry Frankie, no chance of that, all those roads have been covered by towers. Trying to get passed them would be suicide.”
Kneeling against the wooden side of the tower, Frankie remarked “We need to get some power for the flash light first or we are going to be run ragged shortly.”
“I know what you mean. Once the guards start to come back, they’ll sound the alarm and then all hell will break loose. I hear they have some new jet bikes now and they can corner as well as ours and are three times as fast.”
“I heard that too, Jeff. It would be good to get to the sheds and steal a few for the group.”
“I know, but those sheds are in the middle of a guarded compound and we won’t get with a hundred yards before they kill us.”
Suddenly their conversation was interrupted by sirens going off and lights washing the square in a blaze of white.
“There goes our cover plan, Frankie. What have you got left?”
Frankie clicked his Bolterian rifle and said “I have four shells left, you?”
Checking his magazine, Jeff said “I have the same. A fire fight is out and if we stay here, they will just blow it up and get it over with. I have an idea.”
“Go on, at this point anything is good to go with.”
Peering around the corner of the door and just missing getting his head blown off. Jeff said “I saw three large canisters of bike fuel, if we can hit them with a shell. They may give us a distraction. I know it’s not much but it’s all we have, Frankie.”
“That sounds good to me, Jeff. Let’s try it!”
“Okay, on my count fire two shells into the one nearest the door, if we set that one off it will blow the other one too.”
“You’re the boss and I'm the mechanic. Say the word, Jeff.”
“Now!” whispered Jeff, as they fired four rounds into the canister.
The canister burst into a wall of fire, the thick smoke blocking the post from view as the cloying, thick tarry liquid flowed across the floor towards the men trapped in the hut. All the time creeping like some burning death, the smell; so noxious it made you want to retch.
“Run!” Jeff yelled as he got up from his crouching position.
The two men ran for all they were worth, partially hidden by the thick smoke and partially by the flames. Two fire engines roared from a nearby yard and started to try to contain the raging fire, but it was too little and too late as the heat from the fuel built up and the gas station erupted in a ball of flame. Men ran screaming as the thick burning fluid covered them like treacle and burned through their uniforms.
Looking around for a hideout, Jeff yelled to Frankie “Second alley on the left!”
The men ran across to the alley and sat against a wall, panting and getting their breath back.
“How long do you think it will be before they search again?” Frankie asked.
“It won’t be too long, but at least we have a respite now. While they fight the fire, we can search the alley for anything we need.”
Rising slowly and walking down the alley, pushing things aside with their feet and seeing what lay there. Though it was a short alley by modern standards, the men were forced to take it slowly in case they missed anything.
Half way down the alley Jeff stopped, his foot hit something large. “Hey, Frankie, give me a hand here will ya. I think I have something.”
Walking back to his friend, Frankie said “What do you make of it? It’s too large for a dog and too small for a big cat.”
Rolling the body over onto its side, they found it was a man. Or at least it was a man before the front of his skull had been fractured by the end of a Bolterian rifle and left as mush; the hands were so badly broken no joint was left in tact and his knees had been shattered.
“Poor sod, never had a chance. Look at the mess his face is in,” Jeff said.
“I have something you don’t wish to hear, but I think you need to know.”
“Go ahead, Frankie.”
Looking at a small package he held, Frankie said “I found this underneath the body and I think you’d better read it for yourself, Jeff.”
After reading the letters in the package, Jeff said “That settles it then, we found our man. It’s a shame they got to him first, by the looks of it he didn't squeal.”
“I think he was running for cover and they mowed him down. His knees were shot; you can see the crawl marks on the ground here. The poor guy tried to hide even until the end and then the crazy bastards took their time in killing him. Ensuring he suffered as much as possible.”
“I think you’re right, judging from the direction of the fall. That solves one of our problems but gives us another equally dangerous one.”
“I know. How the hell do we get out or can we get out? I know you said it was suicidal, but what have we to lose, Jeff.”
“Do you mean try for the mean bike sheds?”
“Exactly, if we die trying we did our best.”
The light cast by the dying flames was a dull dark cloud now and offered little in the way of cover for the two friends as they crept slowly around the edge of the walled square. Beams of light flashed over them, but lying close to the ground they were missed. It was nerve racking all the same. Once they had skirted the walls, there was a fifty yard dash across an open area.
They made the square safely, then stopped to take a breather before the dash over to the sheds.
Looking around at the dire situation they were in, Jeff said “One of us has to make it over, once we go, we keep going until we get there.”
“I got you there, Jeff.”
Jeff and Frankie shook hands then Jeff said “See you over there, Frankie. No point holding out, here we go!”
The men set off at a dead run, half way across and went well then...
Frankie heard the Bolterians firing, he heard Jeff’s yell as he fell. As he turned to his friend he heard him call out “You have to get a bike, tell James we were rumbled and there is a mole,” then Jeff died.